After the Lakeland City Commission declined to vote on an order requiring mask wearing inside buildings last week, Heather Jackson wanted to find out which local businesses are requiring masks of both employees and visitors. So she created a Facebook group to let community members share their knowledge.

Six days, 634 members, and 92 businesses later, Jackson has felt happily surprised with the response, especially with the number of businesses with this requirement in place. In fact, she said she went shopping at a place other than the grocery store this weekend for the first time since she started staying home (and shopping online) in March.

“The more we share this group and the more information we can put together, I think it’s going to be helpful for really our entire community,” Jackson said in a video she posted to her page June 26.

Screenshot of the Facebook group Lakeland Business – Operation Face Mask/

Jackson keeps an updated list of businesses meeting the standard in the “announcements” section of the group. In her video she explains the group, called” Lakeland Business – Operation Face Mask,” is intended to be a positive resource and that she will delete comments she feels are negative or posted to incite debate.

“Obviously, all of us here in this group feel it’s very important for all of us to do our duty and help stop the spread of this horrible, horrible virus. So there won’t be any finger pointing; there’ll be no debating; there’ll be no bashing of businesses that aren’t doing this at this point,” she says in the video. “There is so much hate and divide and negativity in the world right now. That is not what I want for this group.”

She asks group members to privately message her if they find one of the businesses on the list hasn’t been practicing its face mask requirement. As of Monday, she said she had heard of only about three businesses not upholding their own rules.

Jackson has been avoiding going to businesses because she wants to protect her parents from being exposed to COVID-19. She said she knows face masks aren’t 100% protection from the virus, but they have been proven to help.

Heather Jackson. Provided to LkldNow. | @NJIMAGE

Group members have shared their experiences at businesses requiring masks. They have also shared encouraging posts and requests for recommendations of places (such as salons and gas stations) that are requiring masks.

Jackson monitors posts throughout the day to make sure they fit the group rules and to update the master list.

The Lakeland Chamber of Commerce also has a list of businesses with information about what types of precautions they are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Consumer Choices program was announced May 26 and now includes 40 businesses.

Of those, 6 are listed as taking “primary precautions,” 11 have “increased precautions,” and 23 have “comprehensive precautions.” This chart shows what is required for each category.

Cory Skeates, president of the Lakeland Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are trying to navigate widely varying consumer demands, including people who refuse to go somewhere that doesn’t require masks, and people who refuse to go somewhere that does require masks.

“I think it’s tough because everybody wants to keep all of their customers happy, but one of the biggest things right now that we’re hearing from businesses is that consumer confidence is lacking, and that’s coming from both sides,” Skeates said.

Jackson also noted the pressures businesses are facing, saying she didn’t expect so many to have mask requirements “because it’s got to be scary for them” to face losing customers. On the other hand, she has heard from businesses that have gained customers when word about their face mask requirement spreads.

The Consumers Choice program was developed to help people choose businesses according to their preferences. Businesses can submit their information online to participate. They do not need to be members.

More businesses have begun signing up for the program in the last few days, Skeates said. He attributes that to the spikes in COVID-19 cases and to more businesses having chamber signs up about their precautions.

“The one thing I’ve been encouraged by is every business I’ve talked to has put the health and safety of their consumers and employees at the forefront,” even if they have different approaches to that, Skeates said.

The businesses listed on Jackson’s master list, as of June 29, are:

  • #50 Smart Title of Lakeland and Winter Haven
  • Agnini Family Dental
  • All Creatures Animal Hospital
  • Bee Good to You Massage and Bodywork & Bee Good to You at the Farmer’s Market
  • Belle La Vie Salon & Spa
  • Best Buy
  • Black & Brew – both locations
  • Boost Mobile – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Brew Hub
  • Brow Art 23 – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Central Florida Orthopaedic Surgery Associates, PL
  • Central Florida Speech & Hearing Center
  • Cherished Beauty Salon
  • Children’s Thrift Store – North Lakeland
  • Cleveland Heights Animal Clinic
  • Companion Animal Hospital
  • Concord Coffee
  • Curry Mango
  • DR Horton – Lakes at Laurel Highlands
  • Dr. Prisbe (dentist)
  • Dunkin Donuts
  • Energetic Health Clinic
  • Evolve Hair Studio
  • Eye Express Doctors
  • Fire Styles on Edgewood
  • First Choice Haircutters
  • FiT Fusion Premier Health & Fitness
  • Foley Immigration Law
  • Friendly Nails
  • Gigi’s Korean Market
  • Great Clips
  • Happy Nails – Shepherd Road
  • Harris & Helwig, P.A.
  • Hidden Gem Consignment
  • Hole In One Donuts
  • Home Instead – East Main Street
  • Hot Topic – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Jason’s Deli
  • Keiser University – Lakeland Campus
  • Kiran’s Eyebrow Threading – South Florida Avenue
  • Lakeland Animal Clinic
  • Lakeland Gazette
  • Lakeland Habitat for Humanity
  • Lakeland Ice Arena
  • Lakeland Picture Framing
  • Lakeland Regional Health
  • Love An Fluff Groomers
  • Lucky Puppy on Edgewood
  • Mary L. Pepine
  • Mathnasium
  • Moe’s at Lakeside Village
  • My Eye Doctor – South Florida Avenue
  • No Guilt Baking Company LLC
  • Noire Spa & Nails
  • Painting with a Twist
  • Panda Express
  • Pearle Vision
  • Peking House
  • Pet’s Animal Hospital – curbside only
  • PicassoZ Art Cafe
  • Polk Theatre
  • Pretty Nails – Griffin Road
  • Pura Vie Holistic Studio
  • Rainbow – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Russo Law
  • Sei Bella Salon and Spa
  • Senior Helpers
  • Skin and Tonic
  • Smart Style in Auburndale
  • Studio 323 – downtown Lakeland
  • Tammi’s Super Nails – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Tea Largo
  • The Children’s Place – Lakeland Square Mall
  • The Joinery
  • The Loft
  • Tilly’s – Lakeland Square Mall
  • T-Mobile
  • Torrid – Lakeland Square Mall
  • Tracie Carley – Mary Kay Consultant
  • Training with Candy Hart
  • Tranquility Nail Spa
  • Truelive
  • TruMed Spa
  • Unlimited DPI
  • Van Spa & Nail – North Lakeland
  • Vega Spa, LLC
  • Venue Salon
  • Verizon – U.S. 92 in Auburndale and Lakeside Village
  • WingHouse of Lakeland
  • WONN/WPCV/WLFK/WWRZ radio stations
  • Woodlund Salon
  • Yates & Hagan

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